US & Canada

Media digest Florida result

Mitt Romney has recaptured pole position in the Republican presidential race after scoring a resounding victory in Florida's nominating contest.

The US and international media agree he is now the man to beat in the contest, although some commentators find reasons for his campaign not be so cheerful.

US media

The New York Times says that Mitt Romney's big win in Florida "offered a forceful response to the concerns that were raised about his candidacy" after he suffered an embarrassing defeat to Newt Gingrich in South Carolina.

The Florida victory was telling, as it was "delivered by a diverse coalition of the Republican electorate" and enables Mr Romney "to return to the hard job of pulling together a divided party and resume his argument that he has the best chance at beating Mr Obama," the paper adds.

The Wall Street Journal echoes the sentiment, noting that "the results re-establish Mr Romney as a formidable front-runner and undercut his opponents' claims that he can't rally the party behind him".

It adds that by out-spending Newt Gingrich five-to-one and engaging head-on in bitter infighting, Mitt Romney was able "to turn the conversation away from questions about his own wealth and work for a private-equity firm that had characterized the race in South Carolina".

But The Atlantic's Conor Friedersdorf says that although Mr Romney's decisive win in Florida makes him the "presumptive" Republican nominee, the former Massachusetts governor faces an uphill battle to convert his early success into a win in November.

"Since the Republican Party's base is neither excited about Mitt Romney nor inclined to trust him, it'll require effort during the campaign just to turn them out. As he tries to energize them, however, he must avoid alienating independents."

He adds that as Mitt Romney attempts to consolidate his position at the front of the race, the typical move towards the centre is a "lot more fraught for him than for a candidate with different vulnerabilities", thanks to his reputation as an "untrustworthy flip-flopper who'll say anything to get elected".

Image caption Newt Gingrich did not call Mitt Romney to congratulate him on his victory, as is usual

A convincing win in an influential state like Florida sets Mitt Romney on a "gliding path" to the nomination and raises his standing with the conservative base, Karen Tumulty of the Washington Post writes.

She calls Tuesday's results the "first real evidence" that Mr Romney has the ability to rally the party, including Tea Party supporters and Christians.

On the other hand the New Yorker's John Cassidy describes Mr Romney's triumph in Florida as a "relaunch" for his campaign, "showcasing what they [strategists] hope will be a more attractive and crash-resistant version" of the candidate who has been "newly restored to his title of Mr Inevitable".

Mr Cassidy warns, however, that Mr Romney's new tactics, which are "embarrassingly short of his own distinctive policy proposals", will turn the upcoming challenge against Barack Obama into "a presidential campaign featuring two candidates who will be eager to discuss anything but their own records".

International media

James Politi, writing for The Financial Times, says Mitt Romney's win in Florida puts him in an "enviable position" heading into the rest of the nominating contests, adding that "the Florida result could raise calls within the Republican establishment for Mr Gingrich to drop out".

At The Guardian, Ewan MacAskill says the results could also raise concerns at the general dissatisfaction among Republican voters with the presidential field.

"While the Republican establishment will welcome Romney's victory over Gingrich, who is widely viewed as too volatile to be the presidential candidate, there will be concern over the exit polls showing grassroots dissatisfaction with all four of the candidates fighting for the presidential nomination."

Meanwhile, The Economist describes the result of Florida's primary as merely setting the race for the presidential nomination back to its "default state" for most the campaign, with Mitt Romney as the presumed nominee.

"The result suggests that Mr Romney's appeal is broader than his poor showing in South Carolina had implied."

And yet, "it does hold some worrying portents for the general election," it adds.

"Independent voters, who could not take part in the primary, seem to have been put off by the nasty tenor of the campaigning. Moreover, the turnout among Republicans was lower than in 2008, itself a year in which the party was quite dispirited."

The Economist concludes that while the results of Florida represent a boost to the Romney campaign, it offers a silver lining for Barack Obama too.